Tag Archives: fashion

Hidden Histories and Secret Voices by Catherine Paula Han

Join us at Special Collections and Archives on March the 8th for our free event to celebrate International Women’s Day

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Celebrate International Women’s Day by discovering women’s hidden histories and secret voices in Cardiff University’s Special Collections and Archives. The event will be an opportunity to explore the collections, listen to a series of exciting talks and examine some of the items before participating in a creative writing workshop.

The first speaker is Susan Morgan who will discuss the anatomical textbooks that have inspired her PhD in creative writing. Her talk will provide insight into the history and evolution of anatomical textbooks. It will also give an overview into changes in the medical understanding of women’s bodies while revealing what these textbooks tellingly omit or obscure in their representation of women.

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Charles Estienne, La dissection des parties du corps humain (Paris, 1546)

After that, Stephanie Clayton, a PhD student in English Literature, will draw on her expertise in women’s manuscript cultures in order to present the diaries of Priscilla Scott-Ellis (1937-1941). Scott-Ellis’s account offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of a front-line nurse during the Spanish Civil War. Her diaries also show evidence of significant editing, a process that reveals how some women’s voices have been lost but can also be recovered.

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Fashion detail from The Ladies Treasury

Becky Munford, a Reader in English Literature, will give the last talk about the fashion-related items from the library’s collection and present her research project ‘Women in Trousers’. She will also be launching an online archive related to her project. In so doing, she will challenge the perception of fashion as a frivolous subject and will demonstrate the significance of women’s garments to their physical, social and political freedom.

In the final part of the day, local poet Emily Blewitt will lead a creative writing workshop. She will enable you to respond to the event’s theme of women’s hidden histories and secret voices as well as the items in Special Collections and Archives.

 

Programme

2.00: Welcome

2.15: Talk by Susan Morgan

2.30: Talk by Stephanie Clayton

2.45: Talk by Becky Munford

3.00: Time to browse collections and archives

3.30: Break

3.45: Creative writing workshop

5.00: End

Date and Time

Wed 8 March 2017

14:00 – 17:00 GMT

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Location

Special Collections and Archives

Arts and Social Studies Library, Cardiff University

Colum Drive

Cardiff

CF10 3EU

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Friends Who Are Going

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You can register for free here.

For more information please email specialcollections@cardiff.ac.uk

 

 

 

Guest post: CUROP Research Project – Pattern and the Romantic Imagination, 1780-1840

This guest post comes from Felicity Holmes-Mackie. A graduate of Cardiff University, Felicity has been working as a research assistant for Dr Jane Moore School of English, Communication and Philosophy on a CUROP (Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme) project using ladies’ periodicals held in Special Collections and Archives.

Posters from all the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences CUROP projects undertaken this year will be exhibited later this week on Friday 16th October in the Viriamu Jones Gallery in Main Building between 12.00-13.30.


‘The fashionable colours for this month are…’

dress 2During my undergraduate degree at Cardiff I have been fortunate enough to enrol on several modules taught in conjunction with Special Collections and Archives. Having been exposed to the wonderland of exciting resources nestled underneath the Arts and Social Studies Library, I naturally leapt at the chance to embark upon a research project based there during summer 2015. Now, thanks to a project led by Dr Jane Moore and supported by the Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (CUROP), I have spent a summer picking my way through the moveable shelving and examining the treasures I discovered.

The project, entitled Pattern and the Romantic Imagination: the creative interchange between poetry and needlework 1780-1840, explores the links between material crafts and imaginative poetry and prose fiction of the Romantic period. I have been, slowly but surely, rifling through the hard copy collections and online digital databases of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century
spinesperiodicals. The main publications I have focussed on are The Ladys Magazine, La Belle Assemblée, and The Ladies’ Monthly Museum, which feature a wide range of articles. These include serialised prose fiction, illustrated biographies, recipes for medicines, word puzzles, and needlework patterns. They were generally aimed at upper class ladies and contain work written by both male and female contributors, who were often unpaid.

dressThe most interesting discoveries of the project were undoubtedly those found in the fashion descriptions which feature in all three publications. Each magazine had a slightly different approach to reporting on the latest fashions; while some articles aim to inspire with vivid descriptions, others dictate what the reader should or should not be wearing according to the tastes that month. La Belle Assemblée outlines upcoming fashions, whereas The Ladies’ Monthly Museum describes fashions of the past month in its regular feature ‘The Mirror for Fashion’. The Ladys Magazine includes similar monthly features, but twice a year it also provides vivid and detailed descriptions of the court dresses worn on royal birthdays. In these pieces, each lady’s outfit is described and judged in terms of taste; sometimes the line between gossip and fashion description becomes somewhat blurred!

detailThese fashion articles can seem repetitive and uninteresting, perhaps something to skim quickly before finding the next instalment of a gripping serialised novel or the next letter in a stream of huffy correspondence. However, delving into these articles reveals an arsenal of technical language and a veritable rainbow of descriptive vocabulary. One of the highlights of the project has undoubtedly been the rich, varied, and occasionally eccentric colour vocabulary which features in all the publications to some degree. From pigeon’s breast to faded dove, marshmallow-blossom to date-leaf, ponceau to ethereal blue, the ‘fashionable colours for the month’ are rich, varied, and occasionally eccentric.

dress3The coloured fashion plates too, are a real treat. The majority of plates show ladies sitting or standing in ways which will show off their outfits, but some also show ladies dancing, at the beach, playing musical instruments, or picking flowers. In some months hat fashions go into overdrive and resemble crowns, large turban-style wraps, or even Roman helmets.

These fashion articles and plates are certainly more stimulating and imaginative than they might first appear. Not only did the colour vocabularies surprise me but the technical descriptions of the dresses offered an insight into thinking about outfits and dress which was peculiar to the period and is far-removed from the way we think about style today. The periodicals generally offered a range of unexpected and fascinating articles and illustrations and I certainly feel lucky to have familiarised myself with them.

Exhibition: Should women wear trousers?

Special Collections and Archives’ latest exhibition is curated by Dr Becky Munford and Amber Jenkins, School of English, Communication and Philosophy. The exhibition forms part of Becky’s wider research project into trouser wearing among women in Britain, France and America since the French Revolution. Becky’s website, ‘Women in Trousers: A Visual Archive’, will be launched later this summer.

The exhibition will be on display until early September. Extracts are supplied below.

Should women wear trousers?

From Joan of Arc to George Sand, Mary Edwards Walker to Marlene Dietrich and Colette to Coco Chanel, the history of trouser-wearing women in the West is vexed by controversy. Linked with periods of social and political upheaval, women’s liberation, radical thought, aesthetic innovation and erotic freedom, women in trousers have historically represented an illegitimate assumption of male authority and power – of ‘wearing the trousers’ – that destabilises fixed notions of sexual difference and threatens the ideology of the separate spheres.

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‘Should Women Wear Trousers?’, Picture Post (1 November 1941), pp. 22-23.

‘Trousers For Women Are Not Necessarily Unattractive’, Punch (11 May 1927), p. 517.

Dress reform and ‘rational’ costume

The ‘bloomer costume’ was popularised by the American women’s rights activist and temperance advocate Amelia Bloomer in The Lily in 1851. Consisting of loose Turkish-style ‘trowsers’ worn under a short dress, the bloomer costume offered a ‘rational’ alternative to what Bloomer described as the ‘everlasting bondage’ of stays and petticoats. Although trousers had been worn by women in utopian socialist communities earlier in the century, bloomers represented the most radical challenge to fashionable dress because they wedded dress reform to feminist thought and political protest.

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‘Woman’s Emancipation (Being a Letter addressed to Mr. Punch, with a Drawing, by a strong-minded American Woman)’, Punch (28 June 1851), p. 3.

‘Amelia Bloomer, Originator of the New Dress’, Illustrated London News (27 September 1851), p. 396 [first printed in The Lily (September 1851), p. 69].

‘The American Ladies’ New Costume’, Illustrated London News (19 July 1851), p. 85.

‘Bloomeriana. A Dream’, Punch (1851) pp. 204-205. Illustrated London News (19 July 1851), p. 85.  

Irrational Rationalists

The intrigue and anxiety provoked by the sight of women wearing trousers in public unfolded across the printed pages of the popular press on both sides of the Atlantic. The British weekly magazine Punch focused its satire on the figure of the ‘strong-minded woman’, whose appropriation of trousers – a visual symbol of male power and privilege – was construed as a direct assault on masculinity. In the early 1850s, the magazine routinely offered derisive images of bloomer-clad women adopting ‘masculine’ poses, smoking cigars, proposing to men and terrorising their ‘hen-pecked’ husbands.

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‘Bloomerism!’, Punch (1851), p. 189.

‘The Angel in ‘The House;’ Or, the Result of Female Suffrage (A Troubled Dream of the Future)’, Punch (14 June 1884), p. 279.

‘Sirens in Small-Clothes’, Lady’s Pictorial (25 April 1891), p. 654.

Free-wheeling feminism

The bloomer costume reappeared with the bicycle craze of the 1890s, and once again became the object of Punch’s caricature. The New Woman on a bicycle not only represented new locomotive freedoms for women, but also the possibility of broader social, intellectual and political freedoms. In 1896, the American women’s suffrage campaigner Susan B. Anthony declared that bicycling had done ‘more to emancipate women than anything else in the world’.

bicycle

‘The Latest Craze in Paris: Lady Cyclists as Seen at Longchamps’, The Graphic (14 April 1894), front cover.

‘Fashions for November’, The Graphic (27 October 1894), p. 495.

‘The National Cycle Show’, The Graphic (15 December 1894), p. 682.

‘The Latest Parisian Craze’, The Graphic (14 April 1894), p. 420.

‘Bicycle Suit’, Punch (12 January 1895), p. 23.

‘A Girl Goes Cycling’, Picture Post (17 February 1940), pp. 42-43.

Wearing the trousers

The early decades of the twentieth century saw dramatic transformations in women’s dress to match the seismic changes taking place in the cultural, technological and political spheres. During the First and Second World Wars women adopted trousers to take up new modes of labour, working on the land, in munitions factories, as ship-builders, and as ambulance drivers and pilots, among other professions, preparing for and responding to ‘national emergencies’.

landgirl

‘Farmers! Protect Your Crops by Using “Binks’s Patent Futurist Scarecrow”’, Punch (17 July 1918), p. 33.

‘The Farmer’s Idea of the Landgirl’, Punch (13 March 1940), n.p.

‘Ambulance Drivers in their War-Time Kit’, Picture Post (13 May 1939), p. 16.

‘Girl Pilots’, Picture Post (22 October 1938), p. 47.

Fashioning the modern woman

In the 1920s and 1930s, trousers became a more acceptable part of women’s attire for sports and leisure activities. Sportswear influenced the masculinisation of women’s fashion, while pyjama suits, and even shorts, became a part of fashionable women’s summer wardrobes. That trousers played a vital role in fashioning the idea of ‘modern’ femininity was also reflected in the association between trouser-wearing and smoking – trousers featured prominently in cigarette advertising of the period to suggest the freedoms promised by smoking for the modern woman.

fashion

‘Trousers – And All That – For Women’, Punch (18 May 1931), n.p.

‘Play Suits for Summer’, Picture Post (1 April 1939), pp. 52-53.

‘Advertisement for Camels’, Harper’s Magazine (July 1930), back cover.

The pointy stick proliferation, or, How to explore the antiquities of Britain as an 18th century gentleman

Pointy stickIn the late 1700s, an interest in the study of British history and other antiquarian pursuits was the mark of a gentleman and a patriot, and many topographical books of the day reflect the increasing public interest in ancient remains. These illustrations all come from Francis Grose’s The antiquities of England and Wales, published between 1772 and 1776 and aimed at the popular market of interested readers who perhaps had neither the means nor the inclination to visit the sites in person.

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Grose’s topographical engravings are notable not just for the ancient ruins they depict in skillful detail but also for their “staffage”, the little figures invariably included for scale or atmosphere who are shown exploring the site or simply going about their daily business – men fishing in the rivers, scholars chatting by the chapel, and tiny milkmaids chased by angry livestock! But by far the most common figures to be found in these prints are the gentlemen dandies with their ever-present pointy sticks…

Proliferation of pointy sticks

Got milk?

By the end of the 18th century, a rigid cane had replaced the sword as an essential part of the discerning gentleman’s wardrobe. Walking sticks became an ???????????????????????????????important indicator of social status and a way for a gentleman to display his wealth; usually made from rattan, sticks were elaborately and expensively crafted with silver, ivory or jeweled handles. As the highways of the late 1700s still held some dangers for the lone traveller, walking sticks often retained the sword’s function as a defensive weapon, and canes with blades or even pistols hidden in the shaft were common. As these pictures show, however, the most important use of a gentleman’s walking stick was to point out matters of interest to a friend, a lady companion, or even the occasional dog!

One man and a dog

Francis Grose (1731-1791) himself was an interesting character. A soldier by ???????????????????????????????trade, he was far more inclined to his work as an antiquary and spent his summers sketching medieval ruins around the country. The first part of The antiquities of England and Wales was published in 1772 and was followed by three more volumes and a supplement with illustrations by other artists. While touring Scotland to begin work on The antiquities of Scotland, Captain Grose became close friends with Robert Burns and the poet composed Tam O’Shanter to accompany Grose’s drawing of Alloway Kirk when the book was published in 1791.

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Dog

Hidden killers of the Victorian home

corsetTonight’s BBC4 documentary, Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home (10pm) reveals just how many ‘innovative’ domestic products and gadgets harboured deadly poisons and diseases.

Researchers from Modern TV spent several days  in Special Collections and Archives consulting illustrated Victorian periodicals, gathering stills for the documentary. Many useful images, often adverts, were found in Punch, the Illustrated London News, The Graphic, and magazines aimed at the Victorian housewife, such as The Sketch, The Queen, and Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine. Over 1000 images were gathered in the research process.

The documentary explores the presence of arsenic in Victorian wallpaper, lead in toys’ paint, the unsafe use of gas and electricity, and unsterilised babies’ feeding bottles. It also explores the detrimental effect that the introduction of metal eyelets had on corsetry. The eyelets allowed women’s corsets to be pulled even tighter in the indulgence of fashion, causing considerable damage to the back and internal organs, and increased the risk of miscarriage, as many women continued to wear restrictive corsets throughout pregnancy.

Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home is available on iPlayer until 11th April 2013.

Resource guide for women’s history launched for International Women’s Day

brazilSpecial Collections and Archives is marking International Women’s Day 2013 with the launch of its latest resource guide on women’s history and gender studies. The guide covers sources from the 16th-21st centuries, including:

  • Bibliographies and reference works on British women’s history and writing;
  • Biographies of the lives of women;
  • Gendered children’s literature and comics;
  • Conduct, etiquette and advice manuals;
  • Broadsides and ballads relating to women as both victims and perpetrators of crime;
  • Memoirs, diaries and autobiographies of women;
  • Sources relating to women teachers, and girl’s eduction;
  • Journals, magazines and ballads on fashion and dress;
  • histmedHistorical works on women’s health and medical treatment, including the history of midwifery, gynaecology and obstetrics; the history of nursing as a profession; and reports of the Medical Officer for Cardiff, including data on maternity and child welfare;
  • A range of material relating to women’s lives around the world, including newspapers from Indian women’s organisations, Spanish Civil War sources related to women, sources relating to women in Australia, European Union and United Nations reports on women, and papers of female slavery abolitionists;
  • A wide range of women’s journals and magazines, from society pages to radical suffragette publications;
  • Literary works by women, including the papers of Ann Griffiths (poet), Joan Reeder (journalist), Maria Edgeworth (novelist), Felicia Hemans (poet), Mary Tighe (poet), and Lady Sidney Morgan (novelist). Information on female applicants to the Royal Literary Fund, and women writers published by Longmans;
  • Musical scores and archives from Morfydd Llwyn Owen (1891-1918), Grace Williams (1906-1977), and Nancy Storace (1765-1817);
  • Press cuttings from late 20th century Welsh newspapers on women’s issues;
  • girlgraduatePolitical papers from the British Labour Party and Newport Labour Party on women’s issues; papers of the Labour MPs Ellen Wilkinson and Marion Phillips; the diary of social reformer Beatrice Webb; archives of the Women’s Labour League, journals by Sylvia Pankhurst, and a range of suffragette magazines;
  • Books by and archives belonging to female travellers;
  • Papers relating to the history of female students at Cardiff University and its predecessors;
  • Sources on witchcraft and those accused of its practice (commonly women), in Europe and America;
  • Sources on women’s societies

Beard-haters, face-painters and eyebrow-abusers: the dangerous fashions of “Man transform’d, or, The artificial changeling” (1653)

P1190836Those of us who have been left bemused by the sudden rise of high-street botox booths, tanning shops, nail salons and eyebrow bars can take some comfort from this curious work by John Bulwer which suggests that, even as far back in 1653, people have always been astonished at the lengths to which some would go to transform their bodies in the name of fashion.  

P1190832In Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d, or The Artificial Changeling, Bulwer’s aim, according to the full title, is to expose the “mad and cruel gallantry, foolish bravery, ridiculous beauty, filthy fineness, and loathsome loveliness of most nations, fashioning & altering their bodies from the mould intended by nature”.  Bulwer describes in detail how people around the world artificially modify their appearance, noting that every nation has a “particular whimzey as touching corporall fashions of their own invention.”

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Painter-stainers and auricular bravery

The book is divided into 23 sections covering all types of body modification and decoration, including tattooing, lip-piercing, binding, scarring, cosmetics, ear-piercing, and eyebrow shaping. Sections are accompanied by numerous woodcut illustrations contrasting ancient with modern or Old World with New.

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“Eye-brows abus’d contrary to nature.”

In an appendix, The pedigree of the English gallant, the author looks more P1190822closely at how fashions in England have been influenced by practices in  remote parts of the world. Although containing a strong element of social commentary, Bulwer’s work can also be considered one of the first studies in comparative cultural anthropology. He is rarely directly critical of primitive peoples; rather, Bulwer uses the universal nature of body modification to demonstate similar behaviours of humans everywhere (Anthropometamorphosis literally meaning “humanity-changing”). Bulwer may view some practices of remote tribes as laughable or barbaric, but no more laughable or barbaric than those of the ‘civilised’ world.

P1190842

Beard-haters of the world

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The influence of indigenous peoples on Tudor cod-piece fashion?

Man Transform’d was Bulwer’s final book. A physician by trade, he chose to return to his calling as a pioneer of communication with the deaf, having previously published the first treatise on sign language, Chirologia: or The naturall language of the hand.

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“Among those whoe corrupt and deforme the face some account musicians that play upon wind instruments.”

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“Was it not the same conceit that the Macrones of Pontus … once had, among whom they were esteemed the best gentlemen who had the highest head?”

Lunchtime workshops: women’s history and gender studies

Special Collections and Archives’ series of lunchtime workshops continues in December with sessions on women’s history and gender studies sources. The workshops are intended to raise awareness of the breadth of material available to support research in this area, and as a general introduction to using Special Collections and Archives.

The second workshop on women’s history sources will be led by Assistant Archivist, Alison Harvey. Topics will include: biography; children’s literature; conduct/advice manuals; crime; diaries and autobiographies; education; fashion; health and medicine; international affairs; journals and magazines; literature and journalism; music; newspapers; politics, suffrage and the labour movement; travel; University history; witchcraft; and women’s societies.

Workshops will be held in Special Collections and Archives, on the lower ground floor of the Arts and Social Studies Library, Corbett Road, Cardiff. The women’s history workshop is scheduled for 12-1pm on Thursday 6 December, and will be repeated at 1-2pm on Friday 7 December.

Workshops are open to all, but places are limited, so if you would like to attend either session, please email HarveyAE@cf.ac.uk, stating your preferred time.